Millet is an ancient, highly nutritious but often-underutilized grain in the gluten-free kitchen. Although it originated in Asia and is commonly used in Indian cooking, its versatility makes it suitable for applications in Middle Eastern, American, African and even Latin foods. In this dish, which is commonly enjoyed in Israel, Turkey, Lebanon and many other countries throughout the region, whole-grain (or, rather, "whole-seed") millet takes the place of bulghur (wheat) alongside many other staples of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Bob's Red Mill, Arrowhead Farms, and Shiloh Farms are the most common purveyors of whole millet. If your millet seed is not certified or labeled gluten-free, take extra caution in rinsing the seeds and checking for any foreign grains or other substances. As is the case with many vegetarian foods, quality fresh herbs and fresh lemon are essential to the bright and zesty flavor of this dish- so please do not be tempted to substitute dried herbs or shelf-stable lemon juice!
To complete the meal, add hummus or baba ghanouj, gluten-free flatbread or carrot sticks for dipping, canned gluten-free stuffed grape leaves (such as Divina brand), a green salad with olives and feta or zaatar chicken. We hope that after getting better acquainted with millet you will incorporate it more frequently in your diet. For variety, try substituting millet in recipes where you might normally use quinoa, or to remake a gluten-containing couscous dish into a gluten-free marvel.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish.
1/2 cup rinsed and sorted whole gluten-free millet
1/2 cup seeded, diced cucumber (preferably Persian or Kirby)
1/2 cup washed, stemmed, finely chopped flat (Italian) parsley leaves
1/4 cup washed, stemed, finely chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup diced grape tomatoes (or diced, seeded Roma tomatoes)
1 1/2 Tbsps olive oil
2 Tbsps fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Simmer 1/2 cup millet with 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) water in covered, medium sauce pan for 25 minutes. Individual millet grains should still be distinguishable; if the millet is soggy or of a porridge-like consistency, it needs to cook longer. Remove from heat and allow to stand, covered, for an additional 10 minutes. Fluff the millet with a fork and transfer to a large heat-proof bowl, spreading the millet out against the walls of the bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
As the millet is cooking, chop the herbs and vegetables. When the mllet is just barely warm to the touch, gently incorporate tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and parsley. Toss with olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or chill as desired.